Shane Black Talks DOC SAVAGE; Confirms 1930s Setting and Describes It as “What if Jimmy Stewart Were a Stone-Cold Killer?” [UPDATED]

     June 28, 2013


Coming off the massive success of Iron Man 3, it’s safe to say that co-writer/director Shane Black probably had his pick of the litter when it came to choosing his follow-up project.  Despite this fact, the filmmaker admirably chose to return to a bit of a passion project for his next film, an adaptation of the 1930s and 40s pulp fiction hero Doc Savage.  The character’s heroic personality and penchant for quests makes for a promising start to an entertaining feature film, but in the hands of a genius screenwriter like Black, this Doc Savage movie has the makings of something really, really special.

We caught up with Black at the Saturn awards, and he was gracious enough to talk a bit about Doc Savage.  Black confirmed that the film will retain the 1930s setting, and wonderfully described the title character as “what if Jimmy Stewart were a stone-cold killer?”  Hit the jump to read on. [Update: Black has reached out to us and offered a clarification with regards to Savage being described as a "stone-cold killer."  Read his comments after the jump.]

doc-savage-bookUpdate: Black contacted us earlier today to offer a bit of a clarification regarding his comments about Doc Savage:

“The line I so blithely tossed off, ‘what if Jimmy Stewart were a stone cold killer,’ is a bit misleading.  Doc Savage had the abilities of a fighting machine but truly the soul of a pacifist.  He always tempered his violent skills with kindness and a social conscience, preferring never to take human life.  So, um,  perhaps my quote should have more accurately read, ‘potential’  killer.”

Black also offered some clarification in the comments section below, so If it somehow wasn’t clear that Doc Savage was in the right hands before, I believe these comments solidify Black as the man for the job.  Really can’t wait to see this thing.  Our original story follows below.

While it didn’t really seem likely that the Doc Savage character would be transported to modern day, Black confirmed that his film will indeed take place in the 1930s and he also talked a bit about the tone and sensibility of the pic:

“We’re shooting it as though it’s in the 30s, including all the Capra-esque elements of 1930s films like You Can’t Take It With You.  The idea of ‘What if Jimmy Stewart were a stone-cold killer?’ basically.  It’s that kind of combination which we enjoy.”

The filmmaker went on to talk about his deep affection for the Doc Savage source material, saying that he hopes his film will make an entirely new audience fall in love with the character:

“Doc Savage is a personal film to me.  It’s a 1930s pulp character so it hasn’t been around for 75 years or so, but people if they’re introduced to it they’ll get to know, hopefully, what I came to love as a kid.  I’ve read those series for 43 years and always wanted to figure out how to crack it.”

Black is making Doc Savage at Sony as his next film, and while no firm timetable has been given with regards to when filming might begin, we can expect this one to move forward sooner rather than later.  Look for our full interview with Black on Collider this weekend.

A big thank you to Hunter Daniels, Tommy Cook, and Jeff Morreale for covering the Saturn Awards.


Around The Web
  • ScaredForMovies

    I don’t understand Colliders infatuation with this guy. “Genius screenwriter”? How do you figure? I’ll give you Lethal Weapon but lets look at the rest of the resume. Monster Squad, Last Boy Scout, Last Action Hero, Long Kiss Goodnight, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, and Iron Man 3. Am I missing something here? I wouldn’t throw around a term like genius for that list. A few of those movies are downright terrible.

    • Strong Enough

      a genius in action? yes

      • Agent777

        I love Monster Squad, don’t ruin it for me by telling me Shane Black wrote it!

    • winston16s

      Last Action Hero sucked, but that’s about it. Sounds like you have poor taste man. It’s not just the movies either, it’s the dialogue as well. You ever actually read one of his scripts?

      • ScaredForMovies

        No doubt he’s solid, you could even say great. I enjoyed most of the list but to throw the term genuis around so casually, even in the action genre is a stretch for me. Lethal Weapon 1 & 2 were awesome but that was a long time ago. Good dialogue can’t save a poorly plotted movie and you can’t deny that there are a few of those on that list.

    • Strong Enough

      shane black responded to your bitch ass. pay homage!

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  • Al

    “What if Jimmy Stewart were a stone cold killer?”

    Then he wouldn’t be Jimmy Stewart. I like Black for the most part and think his aesthetic would do wonders here, but stone cold Stewart? No…..

    • Michael Gebert

      Go watch The Naked Spur.

  • $2367358

    …..”Long Kiss Goodnight, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, and Iron Man 3…” Loved all 3.

    I don’t see Doc Savage as a Jimmy Stewart stone cold killer, especially with that accent! Maybe he means a different Doc Savage? Maybe that’s his idea of a villan? I’m confused!

  • Del Horton

    Hard to see Doc as any other than Bama drawn.

  • Chris

    I absolutely love Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, but Iron Man 3 was a stupid shit fest. Dumbed down for mainstream audiences.

  • Hop

    Bruce Campbell for Doc Savage anyone? He’s got the chin.

  • M H

    Sorry to be a stickler for details but Black said “We’re shooting it as though it’s in the 30s,” and not “we are shooting it in a 30′s setting.” What he said sounds more like they are taking the character and putting him in a modern setting, but that they are using more of an old school style or aesthetic of filmmaking, hence the reference to Capra. Meaning it sounds like it will take place in modern day, but the character will act exactly like the Doc Savage character from the 1930′s would. Or in other words expect no big changes to the character’s core.

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  • Shane Black

    Allow me to clarify… Doc has always been a character with the kindness and social conscience of a Jimmy Stewart character — qualities which persist to his core, in odd counterpoint to the his jaw-dropping physique and unique fighting skills. The abilities of a killing machine and the soul of a pacifist. And don’t worry, M.H. — we’re in the actual 1930′s.

    And as for ScaredForMovies: Quite correct, I’m no genius, just ask my bookie — but if I get this project right, maybe I can turn you around a little bit. After all, it’s fans like you and your support that have kept me in Cheetos this last 20-odd years. Whatever you may think of me, just know you have my love — and my best effort.

    • Polarboy

      If this is for real I commend you for taking the time to reply. Given the often vacuous and viscous nature of message boards you could have easily not bothered. As for Doc Savage it sounds like a great idea to me. Savage has had very obvious influences on the creation of both Batman and Superman, with some things such as the fortress of solitude outright stolen from Savage’s tales. It would seem to me that its about time Savage as a character got his due for his indisputable influence on pop culture. Best of luck with your endeavour.

    • BobJ

      Well that makes me feel better, truly. I didn’t know what to make of the “stone cold killer” remark. I am excited to see what you do with Doc – it seems that you “get” him.
      I’ve been waiting for this movie since the ’75 camp-fest crushed my 14 year-old soul. I hope you make the Doc movie you want to make. We all have in our heads what the ideal Doc film is – yours probably doesn’t match mine, but if it’s true to the character and is sincere, then that’s all I ask. Best of luck. I hope you have a ton of fun making the film, kick start a franchise, and get Doc the recognition he deserves!

    • emersonushc13

      I prefer the Walter Baumhofer covers from the first pulps, and if you make him 6’5″ or so and not give him a gun you’d probably be half way there.

    • danielheard

      Bravo. Thanks for standing up for your vision of this character that deserves a big screen love letter, especially since so much of modern pop’s heroes are his indirect offspring.
      Bring it!

    • Strong Enough

      Mr. Black you are a great writer. if you have the time can you take a look at this script I wrote? I’m just hoping this works lol got to try anything to get into the biz these days!

  • Burt

    Shane Black is a good writer, kiss kiss bang bang had brilliant dialogue in, and his earlier screen plays from lethal weapon and the last boyscout are great films, but ironman 3 was a pile of shit, here’s hoping this is better.

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  • llzoll

    Jon Hamm as Doc Savage.

  • Griffin

    Been a Doc Savage fan since 1972. I have all the books and even wrote my own fan fic. novel. There is no character that even comes close to him. From what I have heard, You are a true fan. Go get em Mr. Shane Black! I can’t wait for the Man of Bronze to shine.